Leadership needs to be an inside-out process that focuses less on competencies and skill acquisition and more on increasing your self- awareness and understanding of how your behaviour impacts others.
Characteristics for leadership
There is still disagreement of varying degrees on whether people are born leaders or whether leadership can be taught. Most books on leadership will have some reference to the characteristics required to be a good leader. These include vision, loyalty, integrity, commitment, the ability to inspire and motivate others, courage, humility and so on.
However, how does one teach these characteristics, for example courage? The short answer is that it is not possible.
Leadership is about making choices. The choices a leader makes will determine whether or not others will respect and follow him or her. For example in a given situation, people who have been known to be cowards have found their courage and have in the process become heroes. This is the subject of Stephan Crane’s classic, The Red Badge of Courage about a young soldier in the American civil war.
Getting back to leadership training, this is very different from other forms of training because it is not process driven. It is about making people aware that how they see things affects their choices and that the choices that they make have consequences on their ability to lead.
Leadership is a choice
To start, becoming a leader is a choice. It involves sacrifices and doing things differently. It is not for everybody. Being a leader involves making some tough decisions which can incur the wrath of others, particularly trade unions. If one is not prepared to take the heat, as the saying goes, get out of the kitchen!
Leadership does however have its rewards with self-actualisation probably being the greatest. There are very few high paying jobs which do not involve leadership. If one wants to progress in one’s career, sooner or later a stage will come where one will be put in charge of others.
Unfortunately, as we know many people appointed to leadership roles simply do not do them justice. That is where training comes in and we get back to the question, is it possible to train someone to be a leader?
The short answer is no. The person must choose. However, training can enable people to understand what is involved in becoming an effective leader so that they can make informed choices.
For more information on B&A’s Leadership Training courses contact your local B&A office at Durban (031-3094627), Johannesburg 0861-474722, Cape Town 021-5270044, Port Elizabeth 041-3682019, Kokstad 039-7271773, Margate 039-3122698, Richards Bay 035-7531255 or click here